‘It’s not a crime to ask for a living wage’ – Zimbabwe’s doctors

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Doctors operating in Zimbabwe are sometimes so hungry, they collapse during critical procedures. According to a Sunday Times report, this is one of the claims made by a group of 250 doctors fired by the Zimbabwe Health Department this month. One of them, Dr Alfred Matanga, 26, stationed at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare, said that life had become hell after the state doctors embarked on a protracted strike over wages.

The report says the fired doctors were the leading lights in a crippling strike that lasted for more than 70 days. Those that remain at work are on a go-slow and in some cases on a total stay-away because they cannot afford to go to work, let alone feed their families. Doctors in Zimbabwe earn US$100 a month on average, including all benefits and overtime. Matanga said there was general disdain and misunderstanding by politicians about what a doctor’s role in society is. And Dr Zvikomborero Mungwenjedzi said it should not be a crime to ask for a living wage.

The report says in April, when the doctors went on strike for the first time this year, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga said that, in abandoning his or her patients, a striking doctor was no more than “a skilled technician or labourer whose knowledge fits him for an occupation but not a profession”.

Sunday Times report (subscription needed)

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